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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nebraska bound!

First things first, a quick update before I dive into our next jet-setting adventure.

I'm still rockin' the neck collar (week #3, but who's counting?). Perhaps my discomfort tolerance is a bit skewed these days but it's actually not as bad as I was anticipating. Aside from when I'm breaking a sweat (which just feels gross and makes me thankful it's not 115 degrees), I just try to imagine that I'm wearing one of those cozy airplane neck pillows...or a unique scarf...or really stiff turtle neck? It is funny when random people approach me in public and drop one of these -- "Ohh, looks like THAT hurts!" or my favorite one from earlier today..."Somebody had an ouchie!" One guy even came up to me at Whole Foods last week and without saying anything, flipped me his business card. A chiropractor? Shit, I wish I had thought of that! Haha, oh man..

Unfortunately, the brace has had zero impact on my pain...but Dr. Crutchfield did warn us that might be the case. He even said the pain could increase a bit. The goal of stabilizing my neck with the collar is to allow the ligaments a chance for self-repair. Not that lessened pain wouldn't be welcomed, but it isn't necessarily expected if the nerves are irritated, hence the series of injections I'll be starting on March 10 when we fly out to Baltimore to see Dr. Crutchfield.

It is really frustrating not having an "in the mean time" source of pain management. I ended up making a trip back to the dispensary last week and bought a new bottle of higher dose CBD drops to try. I took a full dropper and a half when I got home, which made me drowsy just like the other kind I'd tried, but didn't do anything to my headache. Being "stuck" in pain has come to feel really panicky for me. Sure, I can try to distract myself by doing something I enjoy like being outside or talk through my frustrations with Craig or even just say "f-it" and let the tears flow (all necessary things, by the way), but the reality is, those things don't take away my headache.

As far as my activity level goes (which, as it turns out, has a strong correlation to my sanity levels), I've been trying to do at least something every day. We live just minutes away from some beautiful trail systems so have been walking/hiking a few days per week, squeezing in some stationary bike sprints, and have been going to Pilates at AZ Body Mechanics 4-6 times per week. I've been to some so-so Pilates studios since living in AZ but this is the real deal, and having incorporated some Pilates work with Anna over the past few months, I was thrilled to find this spot. There are some modifications I have to make on the reformer and tower in order to avoid flexion/extension/rotation of my neck and tightening of my traps, but the instructors have been super helpful in providing alternatives.

Ok, so you're probably wondering where Nebraska comes in to play. A few weeks ago, the PT Manager at AP, Tony, suggested to Craig that I have a visit with one of the PT interns, Joe, who has experience in something called PRI (Postural Restoration Institute®). Here's an outline of the basic concepts of PRI:

-The human body is not symmetrical. The neurological, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and ocular systems differ on each side of the body with different responsibilities, functions, positions and demands. The asymmetry balances the body—for example—the torso is balanced with a liver on the right and a heart on the left.

-PRI trained therapists recognize these imbalances and typical patterns associated with system disuse or weakness that develops because of dominant overuse. This dominant overuse of one side of the body can develop from other system unilateral overuse.

-This asymmetry compliments the special functions of the two sides of the brain. Although the two hemispheres of the brain share responsibilities for some functions, each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. PRI trained therapists understand how the two hemispheres of the brain affect the balance of the body.

-When these imbalances are not regulated by reciprocal function during walking, breathing or turning, a strong pattern emerges creating structural weaknesses, instabilities or musculo-skeletal pain syndromes. All PRI trained therapists incorporate reciprocal function to balance muscle activity around the sacrum (pelvis), the sternum (thorax) and the sphenoid (middle of the head).

-Different factors can all influence asymmetrical tendencies and patterns. Other animals have their own tendencies. Toads use their right forepaw more than their left, chimpanzees hold a branch up with the left hand and pick the fruit with their right hand, and humans usually balance their center of gravity over their right leg. PRI trained therapists recognize the common, integrated patterns of human stance like extremity use, respiratory function, vestibular imbalance, mandibular orientation and foot dynamics and correct these patterns through exercise programs.

So I started working with Joe last week, and based on his assessment, he thought it would be a smart decision for me to go straight to the Hruska Clinic in Lincoln, NE, whose services are based on the philosophic and integrative concepts of the Postural Restoration Institute (also where the founder, Ron Hruska, MPA, PT practices). Thankfully, we were able to get the ball rolling pretty quickly. Joe had me get an eye exam last week for him to send directly to Ron along with a summary of his evaluation and they were able to get us on the schedule for next week! At the Hruska Clinic, in addition to the application of PRI science, treatment can include integration of complementary disciplines, including dentists, podiatrists, pulmonologists, chiropractors, optometrists, osteopaths, etc. We won't know for sure who will comprise my team of practitioners (though we're speculating vision will be a piece of the puzzle) but we have five appointments set up over the course of four days. I should have a better idea after the visit with Ron on Monday.

So there we go. Both Craig and I are hopeful that this could be a promising step for me. It doesn't change anything we have planned with Dr. Crutchfield - just trying to attack from all angles. I'm REALLY looking forward to next week's trip and will plan to post an update while I'm there.

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